An off-duty firefighter has been hailed a hero after saving the life of a man who had fallen off a bridge into a river.

David Bell was flagged down by a passer-by after she noticed a person fall from the A192 in Holywell, near Seaton Delaval.

The 51-year-old, from South Shields, immediately stopped his car and began searching for the man in the Seaton Burn.

The father-of-two noticed the man in the water some distance from the bankside and in significant distress.

David put himself at risk and crossed the muddy bank and entered into water to bring the male to safety on the riverbank.

It was then he began immediately administering emergency first aid whilst the woman who had initially flagged him down called 999.

David had to use his clothing to wrap and apply pressure to the wounds until paramedics arrived on seen a short time later.

David said “I think any firefighter would have stopped, other people had stopped to help but I have training and experience so I knew I could have helped, but even when I stopped I didn’t really know what was going on.

“It was very different from when you are called out to an incident when you are at work, then you are surrounded by a team but this time I was alone.

“The man was in a really bad way when I pulled him onto the rocks, his injuries were life threatening and he was becoming unresponsive, so I did what I could before the ambulance showed up.”

The man recovered from his injuries and David has been recognised for his courageous actions by Councillor Phil Tye, chairman of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority with a special award.

The Northern Echo: Firefighter David Bell with his awardFirefighter David Bell with his award (Image: TWFRS)Chief Fire Officer FO Peter Heath is praising David for his quick response to a crisis even though he was off duty.

He said “I want to say a huge well done to David for his response to such a traumatic incident.

“It’s a testament to the firefighters we have here at Tyne and Wear that even when David was off-duty he knew he could help and stepped in to do so.

“All of our firefighters are trained in trauma care so that if they arrive at an incident and members of the public need emergency care we can help our blue light colleagues.

“David was nominated for the award by his colleague Station Manager Graeme Taylor who was incredibly proud of David’s off-duty actions, as am I.

“Thankfully the man that David saved that day has made a recovery and I’m sure he would join me in thanking David for his heroic actions that day.”

Most read

Get more from The Northern Echo and start 2024 informed with 50 per cent off an annual subscription or enjoy 3 months for just £3. Click here 

The Northern Echo:

Cllr Tye has also commended Firefighter David Bell for his actions.

He said: “The actions of Firefighter Bell that day were incredible and a credit to the whole of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service.

“He put his life on the line in a difficult situation because he knew that he could help save that man’s life.

“On behalf of the whole Tyne and Wear Fire Authority, I would like to thank firefighter Bell for his heroic actions.”

The Northern Echo: Firefighter David Bell with Chief Fire Officer Peter Heath,  left, and Cllr Phil TyeFirefighter David Bell with Chief Fire Officer Peter Heath,  left, and Cllr Phil Tye (Image: TWFRS)